Reporting by Ross Hardie
The Flyers found themselves in an unfamiliar, yet unsurprisingly comfortable, location on Saturday morning, as they faced old foe Chile on a military base in Chorillos.
With the club’s influential captain Dan Casey sadly not able to play due to illness, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the club would’ve folded without their leader on the pitch. However, Casey still turned up to manage, proudly leading the squad from the sidelines throughout. The squad was generally similar to recent weeks, with the one exception being Welsh wrecking ball Craig Hill rejoining after two months chasing sheep back home.
With John Quigley taking the gloves for the first half, the defence consisted of Ross Hardie at LB, David Mitchinson at RB and a CB pairing of Noel Conway and Ciaran Malanaphy. In front of them was Marco Castillo at LM, Will ‘the Wing Wizard’ Whelan at RM, and the middle of the park featuring Joel Start and Shane Monroe. Up top, in a lovely simple 4-4-2, were a twist on the concept of playing two contrasting strikers, as the loyal, married Glenn Howes lined up next to everyone’s favourite shagger Sammy ‘three a day’ King.
Almost immediately, the Flyers lived up to their name. The first ten minutes mostly involved Kiteflyer domination, with the ball being controlled easily by the men in black. It could be argued that the frontmen could have been more incisive, but the connection between defence, midfield and attack was so wonderful that the Chileans might have suspected a few professionals were in the Kiteflyers ranks. Eventually, after a few good saves by the Chilean keeper, it happened. The ball was with Hardie on the left, who played the ball to Castillo. Castillo decided to play a peach of a delivery to Howes, who did the rest with ease. Howes was so happy with his finish that he celebrating by leaping like a salmon.
Kiteflyers being Kiteflyers, the team saw a 1-0 scoreline and collectively decided to become complacent. More chances were created, which were mostly wasted. Midway through the half, a second Kiteflyer goal was ruled out for offside by the assistant-less referee, to the protests of the whole team, led by the loudest Flyer Whelan. Another chance embodied Kiteflyer frustrations, as King sent in a perfect ball to Start, who must’ve thought his touch was enough to score but saw his effort stopped by an impeccable save by the goalkeeper, who dived down to his left to stop it. Soon after, disaster struck as Monroe, so cool in midfield, hurt his hamstring, and had to call a premature end to his day. Former captain Mark Griffin replaced him and put in an admirable shift replacing the Yank Anchor in the middle. With five minutes to go in the half, disaster struck. The only Chilean to come out of the first half looking good, stormed through the middle, using pace and skill to take on the Flyers. A shot in the corner missed Quigley’s foot, and the game equalised. One shot, one goal for the Chile boys. Any qualms anyone had with Quigley’s performance would be quashed immediately, however, as he made a solid save on the cusp of halftime.
A frustrated team came into halftime knowing they were the better team, but that wasn’t always enough in football. There was a change up, with Hardie donning the gloves for the second half, and Hill, still fighting jet lag from yesterday’s flight, coming into defence, taking the right-back spot, with Mitchinson coming at left-back.
Inversely to the first half, the Flyers started slowly. A cross-cum-shot from the Chilean right-wing hit the crossbar, and a few minutes later Hardie made a save of a ball that was going a few yards wide regardless. As the half went on though, things started to click. Conway and Malanaphy did what they do best, leading the defence by example. Start, rather ironically, didn’t stop in the middle as he ran between the lines. There were still missed Flyers chances, with Quigley and King perhaps the most frustrated with their misses. There were simple mistakes taken too, including a pass by transcontinental Hill which ended up in the wrong hemisphere of its intended recipient Whelan, who was surprisingly chill about it. Not long after, Whelan’s temperature was back, as he clashed with some angry Chilean a good 30 centimetres smaller than him.
Just as things looked like they were winding down, a quick counterattack for the Flyers finally put them back into a deserved lead. Howes returned Castillo’s favour from the first half and played a ball into Castillo’s feet, who gratefully tapped it into the net. A perfect symbiotic relationship between both players. Sutton would soon come on, ready to use his height and strength against any Chilean defenders who dared get near him. But it wasn’t needed, despite some clumsy fouls outside the area, gifting chances to Chile, all the Chilean attempts were saved or blocked, and as the final whistle went, the Flyers could only feel like justice had been served to Chile, perhaps inspiring the nearby army cadets.
Man of the Match: Glenn Howes (1) Play of the Game: The first goal, which went from defence to attack. Twat of the game: Craig Hill (1), for forgetting which continent he was on with his pass to Whelan. Freestyle: Joel Start for managing to make a tackle with his head in the second half